Oregon man sentenced for infamous bison-taunting Yellowstone incident

A man pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday to four charges of misconduct in national parks, including a now-infamous incident of aggressively provoking a bison. 

Raymond Reinke, 55, was arrested in early August after video surfaced of the incident where he waves his arms and runs toward a bison.

The National Park Service says the Oregon man had several run-ins with law enforcement in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks in the weeks leading up to his arrest, including open container and public intoxication. He was also cited for disturbing wildlife after the bison video surfaced online in late July.

Reinke initially pleaded not guilty to the charges, but changed his plea during Thursday's hearing to guilty. He was originally charged with five misdemeanors, but had his charges reduced to four in exchange for his guilty plea.

Judge Mark Carman sentenced Reinke to 60 days in jail on the charge of harassing wildlife for the bison incident, plus 60 days for interfering with law enforcement and 10 days for disorderly conduct, for 130 days total in jail, with credit for 21 days served.

Reinke has also publicly described himself as an alcoholic.

In court Thursday, Reinke apologized to the bison, saying - "I'm sorry to the buffalo. He didn't deserve what I did to him. I'm sorry, I really didn't mean to hurt that buffalo."

Judge Carman said, "You chased and hounded the bison. You're lucky the bison didn't take care of it, and you're standing in front of me."

Reinke has a criminal history dating to 1991, although no felony offenses. 

A federal prosecutor and Carman described Reinke's behavior as the most "egregious" case of animal harassment they'd seen in Yellowstone.

Judge Carman also emphasized that the viral video of Reinke's actions did not affect the sentencing decisions.

Reinke will also be required to serve five years of unsupervised probation, in which he cannot use drugs or alcohol. He's required to go through drug and alcohol treatment. He is also barred from Yellowstone, Glacier and Grand Teton parks during his probationary period.

-reporting by Jackie Coffin

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